Chris Grove is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com and serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the online gambling industry. If you wish to submit your own editorial please contact Bill Beatty.
The 2014 installment of iGaming North America (iGNA) is fast approaching.
While the three dozen or so speeches, panels, meetups and presentations that will take place from March 19th through the 21st are helpfully organized by iGNA into tracks consisting of a few panels each, I thought it might be useful to outline a few potential schedules stretching across the entire conference based around various areas of interest.
Below you’ll find said schedules focused on the following areas: regulated online poker, sports-based gambling, social gambling, the economics of online gambling and the big picture for iGaming.
Regulated Online Poker: What to Attend at iGNA 2014
iGNA does offer a dedicated poker track, but attendees interested in regulated online poker will find plenty on offer beyond those two panels (which take place on Day 2 from 3:45 to 5:15).
- 2:00 PM: Visionaries’ Perspective – Is iGaming the Problem or the Solution? Must-watch debate between Andy Abboud from Las Vegas Sands and Caesars’ Mitch Garber. Expect to see no punches pulled in what will serve as a full-throated attack on, and defense of, regulated online gambling in general and poker specifically.
- 4:15 PM: Mobile Gaming – Technology, Metrics & Strategy. Mobile and poker don’t fit quite as naturally as mobile and sports, or mobile and slots, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of the platform for operators – especially in hyper-competitive state-based markets.
- 9:00 AM: Keynote Address, Tom Breitling, Chairman, Ultimate Gaming and Tobin Prior, CEO, Ultimate Gaming. While Ultimate is no longer the only regulated online poker site in the U.S., they’re still the first. And that puts Breitling and Prior in the position to offer unique insights concerning the practical challenges facing regulated poker rooms.
- 11:45 AM: Social Gaming to Real Gaming Strategies. While not focused on poker per se’, the panel promises to be a useful primer for converting play money customers of any genre to real money gamblers
- 2:30 PM: Challenges for Payment Processing – Gaining Acceptance. Payment processing is one of the existential challenges facing regulated online poker, a product uniquely sensitive to processing difficulties. Expect valuable context from all panelists, especially Steve Kenneally, Vice President, American Bankers Association.
- 3:45 PM: Regulated Online Poker – The Story So Far. Operators, media and poker data experts offer a 360 view of the first year of regulated online poker in America.
- 4:15 PM: Poker Players Panel. A companion panel provides the player perspective on the evolution of the online poker market in the United States.
- 8:00 AM: Welcome Address and Industry Observations. Early? Sure. Worth it to hear what executives at Boyd and The Borgata have to say about the first few months of regulated online poker and casino games in New Jersey? I’d argue so.
- 9:45 AM: Growing State Pools through Interstate and International Play. While liquidity sharing impacts all games, poker obviously has the most to gain if such agreements develop, and the most to lose should they fail to do so.
- 11:00 AM: New Jersey: A Debrief on the Launch. Reps from Golden Nugget, Caesars and Borgata will provide a first-hand account of the launch in New Jersey.
- 2:30 PM: Alternative Payments. Panelists such as Neil Erlick, Executive VP, Business Development, Optimal Payments will offer up strategies for expanding in a market plagued by sky-high credit card rejection rates.
Sports-Based Online Gambling: What to Attend at IGNA 2014
The menu for sports-based gambling content at iGNA 2014 is a bit lighter that online poker’s in terms of quantity, but fares quite well in terms of quality.
Regardless of whether you specialize in fantasy sports, are focused more traditional sports-based wagering or simply have a general interest, the following schedule should serve you well.
- 3:30 PM: Marketing Objectives in Today’s Business Climate. Panel promises information applicable to all iGaming genres thanks to broad background of presenter Mark McGuinness.
- 4:15 PM: Mobile Gaming – Technology, Metrics & Strategy. Perhaps no segment stands to gain as much from the era of mobile as sports-based gambling. Execs from Shoutz, GTECH and Bally Technologies will discuss how to maximize that gain.
- 11:00 AM: Investment Forum. This panel – moderated by Andrew Zarnett, Managing Director, Deutsche Bank – should serve as an interesting barometer of whether investors are looking to double down on the online sports space or move their focus elsewhere.
- 11:45 AM: Live at iGNA: As Close As You Ever Want to Get to A Federally Prosecuted Sports Betting Trial. An unconventional format – mock trial – brings the issue of ongoing challenges to federal sports betting laws to life.
- 12:30 PM: Lunch Meetup – Regulatory Issues.
- 2:30 PM: Fantasy Is Reality. An overview of the evolution of fantasy sports with Jason Robins, CEO, DraftKings and Greg Ambrosius, General Manager of Consumer Fantasy Games, STATS LLC.
- 9:45 AM: Legal or Temporary Fantasy? Experts discuss the legal status of various real-money fantasy sports options.
- 11:45 AM Virtual Currencies. Not sports-specific, but a must-attend for anyone curious about expanding payment options for any product into the virtual currency realm.
Social Gambling: What to Attend at iGNA 2014
There’s actually a conference-within-a-conference at iGNA 2014 for social gambling. It takes place on Day 2 and can be attended as a standalone event.
But Day 2 isn’t the only day with content worthy of your time if the social market for poker, casino and other betting genres is your area of interest. If you’re attending all of iGNA 2014, here’s a schedule to maximize your social gambling knowledge intake.
- 3:30 PM: Marketing Objectives in Today’s Business Climate. While geared in the general direction of real money gambling, the lessons and resources discussed should prove equally useful for the social arena.
- 4:15 PM: Mobile Gaming – Technology, Metrics & Strategy. Mobile is far more prevalent in the social space than the real-money space, making this panel of special interest to those working on a social casino, poker or other free-to-play betting genre.
Day 2 brings the dedicated Social Gaming track. All panels moderated by Michael Caselli, Editor-in-Chief, iGaming Business Magazine.
- 9:45 AM: Social Gaming’s Effect on Terrestrial Casinos.
- 11:00 AM: Compelling Slot Game Design for Social.
- 11:45 AM: Social Gaming to Real Gaming Strategies.
- 12:30 PM: Lunch meetup on Social Gaming.
- 2:30 PM: Buying Traffic That Will Convert into Profitable Players.
- 3:45 PM: Panel: Is the future of Social Gaming already in your Customer’s Hands?
- 4:30 PM: Gamifying Casino Games.
- 9:00 AM: From Words to Action … Case Studies in Tribal Online Gaming Operations. A panel that will cover a spectrum of approaches to online gaming, with free play and freemium models certain to be part of the mix.
- 11:00 AM: Consumer Protection – Staying Ahead of the Game. A surprising number of consumer protection concerns from the real-money space have direct parallels, or at least analogues, in the social space.
- 11:45 AM: Virtual Currencies. Virtual currencies are of interest to social operators for the same reason they’re interesting to any merchant: differentiation, flexibility and convenience. Lawrence G. Walters, Attorney at Law, Walters Law Group moderates.
- 12:30 PM: Lunch meetup on Marketing.
Economics of Online Gambling: What to Attend at iGNA 2014
This schedule is tailored to an individual looking to transition their general experience with the regulated online gambling market into a more specific understanding of the financial nuts and bolts of developing, planning and launching a regulated iGaming entity.
- 3:30 PM: Staffing Considerations. Hiring in the regulated space presents a unique set of challenges. Howard Shapiro, Partner, Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP and Marwa Mitchell, VP Recruitment – North America, Pentasia will cover the cost, scope and structures for staffing an iGaming enterprise.
- 4:15 PM: Models for Success – Tips from European Veterans. While Europe and the US are distinct markets on many levels, having the playbook from experienced European operators on hand can only improve the approach of those pioneering the US market.
- 11:00 AM: Investment Forum. How difficult is it to raise capital for online gambling ventures? What sources make the most sense for this business? Andrew Zarnett, Managing Director, Deutsche Bank moderates.
- 2:30 PM: Buying Traffic That Will Convert into Profitable Players OR Challenges for Payment Processing – Gaining Acceptance. Acquisition costs are near the heart of any revenue model for an online gambling business. Affiliate guru Nicky Senyard, CEO, Income Access guides a panel focused on social gambling, but the lessons will likely translate smoothly to the real-money sphere.
- 3:45 PM: Choosing a Technology Partner. Gideon Bierer, Founder, Partis Solutions, heads a presentation aimed providing operators with the tools they need to structure their technology partnerships in an optimal fashion.
- 4:30 PM: How to Size Your Online Market. Revenue projections for regulated online gambling are all over the map. This panel, moderated by Paul Girvan, Managing Director, The Innovation Group, will attempt to provide some much-needed grounding and context to the issue.
- 9:00 AM: From Words to Action … Case Studies in Tribal Online Gaming Operations. Tribal gambling entities will have a substantial impact on the development, and analysis of their early efforts should provide actionable intelligence for your venture.
- 11:00 AM: Consumer Protection – Staying Ahead of the Game. It’s difficult to understate the value – and therefore, the potential cost – of consumer protection issues related to online gambling. This panel, moderated by Adam Fong, Senior Director Service Delivery, BMM Testlabs, provides the broad strokes that you can apply to your individual situation and model.
- 2:30 PM: Alternative Payments. Payment processing in the regulated market is proving easier said than done in the early days. Matt Kaufman, Senior Advisor, Z4 Poker, heads a panel that includes Neil Erlick, Executive VP, Business Development, Optimal Payments and other experts discussion the options, costs and liabilities associated with payment processing for online gambling.
Getting the iGaming Big Picture: What to Attend at iGNA 2014
Are you attending iGNA with the goal of gaining an iGaming foundation? This schedule is designed for professionals seeking a big picture view of iGaming that will provide useful takeaways regardless of your previous level of experience with the market.
- 1:15 PM: 2014 US Policy Roundup. Officials from Iowa, New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania will provide a first-hand account of where online gambling is now, and where it’s headed in the immediate future.
- 2:00 PM: Visionaries’ Perspective – Is I-gaming the Problem or the Solution? Get the view from both extremes as Mitch Garber, CEO, Caesars Acquisition Co and Caesars Interactive Entertainment and Andy Abboud, VP of Government Relations, Las Vegas Sands Corp debate the pros and cons of regulated online gambling.
- 3:30 PM: Marketing Objectives in Today’s Business Climate. How do you market in unknown territory? Mark McGuinness will outline his framework for transitioning offline strategy into the online world.
- 4:15 PM: Models for Success – Tips from European Veterans. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to online gambling. This session, with reps from PKR, Intralot, Betfred and Paddy Power, will serve as a helpful primer on the basic dos and don’ts.
- 9:00 AM: Keynote Address, Tom Breitling, Chairman, Ultimate Gaming and Tobin Prior, CEO, Ultimate Gaming. Ultimate was the first site to launch in Nevada, and therefore has the most experience in the nascent U.S. iGaming industry. This talk should offer a broad, yet insightful, summation of that experience.
- 11:00 AM: Investment Forum. An opportunity to gain a macro view on where money is flowing in the iGaming space, and where those flows originate.
- 2:30 PM: Buying Traffic That Will Convert into Profitable Players. While focused primarily on social gaming, this panel will serve as an excellent foundation for any marketing plan in the iGaming space.
- 3:45 PM: Choosing a Technology Partner. What are the risks and rewards of going it alone versus partnering with an existing platform? How much should you keep in house and what functions are better outsourced? Gideon Bierer, Founder, Partis Solutions will address those and related questions in this presentation.
- 8:00 AM: Welcome Address and Industry Observations. Robert Boughner, Executive VP & Chief Business Development Officer, Boyd Gaming Corporation, Brian Sandoval, Nevada State Governor and Tom Russell, Director, Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection should make for an informative and well-rounded welcome address.
- 9:00 AM: Lottery Initiatives. Lotteries are in many ways the 800lb gorilla of online gambling, and this panel – moderated by Chris Krafcik, Research Director – North America, GamblingCompliance – will shed light on how lotteries are likely to enter and impact the regulated online gambling space.
- 9:45 AM: Growing State Pools through Interstate and International Play. As states drive regulation, the issue of sharing liquidity between states becomes more and more central to the future of online gambling. Marco Valerio, Independent Gaming Reporter, moderates a panel that features former Nevada Gaming Control head Mark Lipparelli.
- 11:00 AM: Consumer Protection – Staying Ahead of the Game. The product consumers see at an online gambling site is truly just the tip of the iceberg. Learn what lies below the surface with this panel covering game security, data protection and more.
- 2:30 PM: Regulatory Standards/Compliance: Is Consistency Possible? With a federal solution to regulated online gambling apparently out of reach, the topic of harmonization between different jurisdictions promises to be a central one in the evolution of online gambling. Get a sense of the resulting challenges and opportunities with this panel, moderated by Salim Adatia, CEO, GLI Test Labs Canada.